Local News

Attorney: Timing could prevent FCC fines for UNC coach's expletive

Posted February 19, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Timing could save several radio stations from fines after they carried live a press conference in which University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill men's basketball coach Roy Williams uttered an expletive Wednesday night, media attorneys say.

Nightime could prevent fines for UNC coach's profanity Time could stave off fines for UNC coach's profanity

After a highly emotional game against rival North Carolina State University, a reporter asked Williams if he knew why his "veteran guys ... stink" at playing full-court press.

Williams responded, "If I knew the answer to that, do you think we'd still be (expletive) stinking?"

He immediately apologized for his verbal lapse, saying, "Everybody strike that f-word; I meant to say 'frickin.'"

The expletive, though, went out unedited on several media outlets, including radio stations carrying the Wolfpack Sports Network and Tar Heel Sports Network.

Federal law permits the Federal Communications Commission to fine stations up to $325,000 for each occurrence of obscene material broadcast on their airwaves.

However, the time at which Williams said the word is key to whether stations would be liable for a fine, said Mark Prak, an attorney for the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters. The FCC allows a "safe harbor" for broadcasting indecent material from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., when fewer families and children are listening or watching.

According to a WRAL reporter at the press conference, Williams said the expletive a few minutes after 10 p.m.

"Given the time of day of Coach Williams' remarks, it would appear that all the radio stations carrying the post-game news conference live caught a break," Prak said.

The context in which the word was uttered could also make levying fines harder, the attorney said.

"I wouldn't argue that this is necessarily a broadcast of indecent material," he said. "As a matter of fact, if it occurred during a press conference of a newsworthy event, it might very well be exempt."

The FCC would have to launch an investigation first before levying any fines, Prak said.

"While we can all appreciate when someone makes a mistake, I'm not sure every case is a federal case," he said.

47 Comments

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  • burnhace Feb 20, 11:43 a.m.

    I grew up in a good neighborhood, but when I was in 2nd grade and had just learned how to read, some bad boys wrote a bunch of dirty words in mud on a tool shed near my house. They wrote the d-word, the c-word, the s-word, and the f-word. I think they wrote some other words too but I can't remember. I am now in my 50-s and I can truthfully say that the child psychologists are right. I was warped for life and will never be the same. I think the government (that forced me to learn to read these words but did not protect me from them) is responsible for the damage, and now owes me a living. If you are an ultra-religious Republican I am sure you will agree. Otherwise, why don't we all grow up, and that includes WRAL.

  • BigUNCFan Feb 20, 10:51 a.m.

    It's about the kids. It is always about the precious little darling kids, especially the darling little angels in Cary who are holier than thou and have never heard such language as they are as pure as the driven snow.

    Gimmee a break.

  • TarheelTurtle Feb 20, 10:37 a.m.

    I love the moral outrage and the lynch-mob mentality. If your children are so young, why are they up at 10pm? That's a little late for a school night. If I hadn't read the article, and just browsed the comments, I would think you were talking about Hester Prinn. Perhaps that would be good punishment for Roy? He could wear a large red "F" around his neck for the rest of the season.

    Yes, Roy was caught, twice, once in the post-game,(that's what the to-do is about folks, stick to the topic), and as the game was going to commercial. Unfortunatley, the word he used has become all too common today, and most don't consider it a big deal. But the "holier-than-thou" attitude of some here is beyond belief.

  • easystreet Feb 20, 10:19 a.m.

    Be SPECIFIC... itls... or be quite. You said just enough to show you lack of information. If you think there is something going on that is not right. State your facts!

  • Common Sense Man Feb 20, 9:43 a.m.

    "Roy is the offender, not the broadcasters. ROY needs to take responsibility for his actions, apologize, and pay any fine HIMSELF. And UNC should demand exactly that."

    Why is it his fault that they don't have a delay?

  • Tarheel_For_Life Feb 20, 9:35 a.m.

    Of course as Tarheel I will defend Roy. But in all truth there aren't many coaches that haven't let it slip out during the game, but not in in the press conference, I will give you that.
    It's not like he was really aimimg the comment at an individual. Give him a frickin' break...LOL

  • Tim in Raleigh Feb 20, 9:08 a.m.

    What about the F-bomb that Roy dropped on TV during the game.... He was yelling at the Ref during a dead-ball situation and dropped an F-bomb on him. That was before 10pm. You could clearly hear it on TV and the camera had a close-up of Roy. Is that OK?

  • DasStonecutter Feb 20, 9:03 a.m.

    "Then you wouldn't have had to hear about a coaches son being a convicted felon and embarassing your Coach and NCSU. So, if you live in a glass house you shouldn't throw stones. We all make mistakes. Most of us don't live under a media microscope. Get over it...." -19tarheel75

    Every fanbase has a fringe that says stupid things and makes the rest of the fans look bad. Unfortunately for UNC I believe that person is you. What does Sidney Lowe's son have to do with Roy's slip-up at the microphone? Lowe II is an adult and must deal with the consequences of his mistake. The fact that his father is supporting him through this does anything BUT embarrass NC State. We are all very proud of our coach and his character. This was simply brought up to give grief to NCSU fans.

    I know not all UNC fans are like this, most are nice folks. This post, however, lacks class. And it's slightly ironic considering you bring up an event from March of 2007 then tell others to "get over it."

  • B.T.D.B Feb 20, 8:53 a.m.

    goodness!...grow up!...It happens in sports after emotional games!
    watching Bobby K. kick trash cans and throwing chairs across the court while cursing up a storm! And he was a regular at it! Roy's been coaching for a long time, and this is probably the first time he has ever said anything like this. Other than the normal "Jiminy Crickets" "frickin" "holy christmas" or "dag nabbit" that he uses after games!

    Some of the ones that are complaining are probably the same ones letting there kids stay up to watch Family guy! And sitting around the water cooler at work saying a whole lot worse!
    get on with your lives and enjoy the day! Everything is OK!
    by the way....Go Heels!

  • easystreet Feb 20, 8:44 a.m.

    THAT type of language is common place for k. Roy did it...admitted he did it...apologized. Let it go.
    Better yet...anybody that had never said anything inappropriate..go on with your perfect life.

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